The President-elect of NAISA has described the event taking place in the Waikato this week as an historic gathering of Indigenous peoples.
The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference 2019 started this morning with a pōwhiri at the Claudelands Events Centre. It is being hosted by the University of Waikato, with the substantial presentations and discussions starting on the Hamilton campus tomorrow.
So far, more than 1700 people have registered for the conference, and President-elect Associate Professor Shannon Speed told those gathered for the welcome that numbers may even top 2000. “That is an historic size for NAISA, but also for any group of Indigenous scholars, or community member of any nature.” Dr Speed is a citizen of the Chicksaw Nation, and also director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.
University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai said they were all on very significant land, and it was an honor to have Kiingi Tūheitia Paki attending the pōwhiri. “The kaupapa at NAISA has been about reserving and perserving our traditions, retaining our land, retaining our soverignty as Native peoples. And here we are in 2019 continuing the discussions around the preservation of our languages, the fight for our rights as Indigenous peoples, and the importance of maintaining our culture and heritage, not just for today, but for all the generations to come.”
Later today, delegates from around the world will take part in community day activities throughout the Waikato. These events range from a Kīngitanga Bus tour, to weaving lessons and traditional martial arts.
NAISA is the largest and most important Indigenous Studies association in the world. The University of Waikato joins some of the most prominent universities in the world that have also hosted NAISA such as the University of British Columbia and UCLA which hosted in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
For more information on NAISA 2019 and the latest programme details go to: https://naisa2019.waikato.ac.nz/